4. Fishman

Luaitear Joshua Fishman sa leabhrán seo, arís agus arís eile. Meiriceánach, cainteoir dúchais Giúdaise, agus teangeolaí a raibh an-dúil aige i dteanga mionlaigh agus mionlaithe a ba é.

Thug an sochtheangeolaí Brian Ó Curnáin “soiscéal” ar dhearcadh Fishman, ag scríobh go bhfuil “dallamullóg ar an té nach dtugann fíorchreidiúint do léirmhínithe cothaíocha tacúla” s’aige agus ag moladh d’eagrais a oibríonn ar son mhionteanga an soiscéal céanna a léamh.

Cé gur scríobh sé breis is míle alt is leabhar, beifear ag díriú isteach ar cheann amháin anseo – ‘Reversing Language Shift: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Assistance to Threatened Languages’ (RLS).

Joshua Fishman
Joshua Fishman ag caint faoi chás Ghaeilge na hAlban, Obair Dheathain, 2007. Pic le El bes via Wikimedia Commons

In RLS, leag Fishman an creatlach teoiriciúil atá de dhíth, dar leis, chun teanga a shábháil nó a athbheochan fiú[i].

Ní raibh aon deacracht polaitiúil nó morálta ag Fishman maidir le teanga a athbheochan cé gur admhaigh sé go mbíonn sé an-dheacair[ii].

Do Fishman, ba é stádas teanga mar theanga tí agus seachadadh na teanga seo go dtí chéad ghlúin eile tús gach rud, ní toradh ar ghníomhaíocht thánaisteach[iii].

Bhí an spéis aige sa Ghaeilge agus bhí moladh aige do lucht na Gaeilge, go háirithe do mheon na gníomhaíochta áitiúla is deonaí[iv], ach dar leis go raibh ar lucht na Gaeilge a bheith dírithe ar dhlús chainteoiri a ardú[v].

Níor ghlac sé (i 1991) go raibh rás na Gaeilge rite, ag rá nárbh fhéidir a chur as an áireamh go mbeadh ardú i seachadadh na teanga mar chéad theanga sa todhchaí[vi].

Ag deireadh an leabhair, leagann sé amach a theoiric – cuirimse leagan de sin anseo – atheagraithe, curtha go Gaeilge agus glanta ó Bhéarlagair na teangeolaíochta[vii].

Céim a haon (ag baint dhátheangachas amach)

  1. Ag atógáil na teanga (foclóir, patrúin agus srl.) agus an teanga atógtha sin a theagaisc do dhaoine fásta mar dhara theanga.
  2. Gníomhaíochtaí a eagrú, naisc láidre chultúrtha a chothú – bainteach leis an ghlúin níos sine ach a bhfuil mar aidhm aige cultúr na teanga a chur i láthair dhaoine níos óige freisin agus cainteoirí a dhéanamh astu.
  3. An teanga a chur á labhairt i dteaghlaigh in athuair – i ndlúthphobal-teaghlaigh-baile: “Bunús seachadadh máthair-teanga idirghlúine”.
  4. Litearthacht a spreagadh i measc óg agus aosta (“correspondence, newsletters, magazines, brochures and books” – taobh amuigh den chóras oifigiúil.

Céim a dó (ag bogadh ar aghaidh ó staideanna dhátheangach)

  • Scoileanna, trí mheán na teanga, scoileanna de chuid phobal na teanga a bhunú (i gcás na hÉireann, sin Gaelscoileanna)
  • Úsáid na teanga san áit oibre a chothú go háitiúil nó go réigiúnach, taobh amuigh den chomharsanacht féin, agus i measc an mhórphobail.
  • Úsáid na teanga a chothú sna meáin mhóra chumarsáide agus i seirbhísí réigiúnacha rialtais.
  • Úsáid na teanga a chothú in earnála oideachais, oibre, meáin chumarsáide agus oibríochtaí rialtais ag leibhéil arda náisiúnta.

Chun scéal fada a dhéanamh go han-ghairid, agus ró-shimplí, i bPoblacht na hÉireann, tugadh faoi athbheochan na Gaeilge san ord mícheart, dar le cur chuige Fishman. I dTuaisceart Éireann, seans go bhfuil stáitse 7 & 8 dodhéanta, ach arís, níl sé i gceist agam tagairt a dhéanamh do pholasaithe poiblí anseo.[viii]

Chaith Fishman go leor amhrais ar imeachtaí ócáideacha mar ghléas athbheochana[ix], an cineál imeachta a chaith eagraíochtaí Gaeilge go leor ama á n-eagrú go stairiúil, dar leis nach mbíonn aon nasc acu le húsáid rialta[x]:

“Clearly, no matter how important they may be, courses, concerts and reading or listening matter whether for the old or for the young do not themselves create a speech community. Neither goodwill nor competence nor even leisure-time language use translates automatically into the basic building-blocks of home-family-neighborhood-community life that alone can lead to inter- generational language transmission.”[xi]


[i] “(read from the bottom up)

1. Education, work sphere, mass media and governmental operations at higher and nationwide levels

2. Local/regional mass media and governmental services.

3. The local/regional (i.e. non-neighborhood) work sphere, both among Xmen and among Ymen.

4a. Public schools for Xish children, offering some instruction via Xish, but substantially under Yish curricular and staffing control.

4b. Schools in lieu of compulsory education and substantially under Xish curricular and staffing control.

II. RLS to transcend diglossia, subsequent to its attainment

5. Schools for literacy acquisition, for the old and for the young, and not in lieu of compulsory education.

6. The intergenerational and demographically concentrated home-family- neighborhood: the basis of mother tongue transmission.  

7. Cultural interaction in Xish primarily involving the community-based older generation.

8 · Reconstructing Xish and adult acquisition of XSL.

I. RLS to attain diglossia (assuming prior ideological clarification)” Fishman ibid. 

[ii] Fishman (1991): “The basic dilemma of RLS-efforts everywhere is that their success requires overcoming the very problems of modern life that the strongest societies and cultures have not been able to overcome. The basic strength of RLS-efforts is that they can afford to take a less ponderous, more grass-roots approach to these problems and, thereby, seek to come to the attention of and become more identified with those whose lives they aim to influence.” Lena chois sin: “The foregoing remarks are not intended to make it seem that RLS is impossible or doomed to failure. They are intended to make it clear why it is so hard to succeed at it. Successful RLS implies remaking social reality and that is very hard for minorities to do. The social meaning of being a minority is that one is forced to spend almost all of one’s cultural resources on damage control, that is, on merely staying alive within a cultural reality that is not of one’s own making and not even under one’s own substantial ability to influence.”

[iii] Fishman (1991): “Initially, those who are weak can only compete for control over their own intimacy and then strive to go on from there, from the firm foundation of their own ‘little culture’ to the possibly greater regulation of selected corners of their own modernity. They must begin their RLS-efforts close to the direct intergenerational mother tongue transmission nexus and move on, slowly and gingerly, from there, doing so only as those processes that stand further from that nexus can be both regulated and focused more fully on that link itself.”

[iv] Fishman (1991): “We have devoted considerable space to Irish RLS-efforts because Irish is a good example of a very difficult (perhaps the most difficult) situation which has been worked at without major success for many years and, nevertheless, one that has produced more good ideas and gratifying accomplishments in recent years than it is generally given credit for. There has been disillusionment, but it has not overcome the RLSers. There has been a surfeit of governmental bureaucracy and monopolization of support or control, but local voluntary initiatives still continue unabated and have, in recent years, begun once again to stress truly basic issues and stages and to recognize that local voluntary efforts are often in a better position to achieve breakthroughs than are ponderous, costly, centrally controlled, nationwide efforts.”

[v] Fishman (1991): “Without focusing squarely on the home-family-neighborhood- community concentration of Irish speakers, particularly in the East, it may be unrealistic to pursue the old goal of ultimately making Irish a general language of communication throughout Ireland, but is not unrealistic to seek to socialize an ever larger proportion of the population into more fluent bilingualism and to permanently keep them so as spokesmen and as advocates of one valid model of modern Irish life. RLSers in Ireland give the lie to the claim that Ireland never seriously considered making the Irish language its everyday vehicle of communication 15. There has been a lot of governmental tokenism, of course, but there has been a lot of RLS dedication, a lot of ingenuity, a lot of hard work and, in recent years, a new recognition of where the brunt of future effort should be placed. Ireland is a test case that all RLSers everywhere must ponder carefully, so that the can benefit from its lessons, including the lesson of how to avoid ‘Irelandization’, i.e. the peripheralization of Xish in Xland.”

[vi] Fishman (1991): “What the revivalists have accomplished against great odds, and their current levels of devotion, achievement and involvement, all border on the miraculous; but the time may have come to realize that these attainments and characteristics cannot set the norm for Ireland as a whole and that future RLS policy may require separate approaches and standards of evaluation for different segments of Irish society. RLSers might do well to realize that not having swept the field or completely reversed the tide is not a sign of defeat but, rather, a level of accomplishment that must be evaluated against what would most probably have obtained had they not entered the fray at all; in the Irish case, this is not only very considerable but enough to safeguard the continuation of Xmen-via-Xish for the foreseeable future. The lack of attainment at the level of mother-tongue acquisition and transmission, particularly when measured at the nationwide level, does not mean that other types of transmission are similarly … nor that some reasonable and judicious growth in intergenerational mother tongue transmission per se is out of the question. Indeed, many threatened languages in Europe and elsewhere would consider themselves fortunate to achieve during the

coming century the level of RLS that Irish has achieved during the past century.”

[vii] Bhain mé úsáid as Thomas, H. S, & Williams, C. H. (2013) sa chuspóir áirithe sin.

[viii] Maidir le hÉirinn mar aonad tíreolaíochta, cultúir agus teangeolaíochta, tá cúinsí éagsúla i bhfeidhm ar fud an oileáin – taobh amuigh den fhíric go bhfuil Béarla ag beagnach gach duine agus go bhfuil lámh in uachtar aici i mbeagnach gach áit is réimse saoil.

Dá bharr sin, ní dhéanann sé ciall cur chuige Fishman a anailísiú maidir leis an tír ar fad, tá cúinsí teanga iomlán difriúil idir Ghaeltacht láidir ar nós Ros a’ Mhíl nó Ros Muc agus an áit is gallda san oileán, Love Lane i gCarraig Fhearghusa.

Mar sin, tabharfaidh mé spléachadh ar dhá cheantar éagsúla – Iarthar Bhéal Feirste agus ‘Pobal Chrotshléibhe’ i ndeisceart an Dúin, áit a bhfuil mé féin bunaithe, chun cur chuige Fishman a léiriú go praiticiúil.

Iarthar Bhéal Feirste

Tá mé ag glacadh iarthar Bhéal Feirste mar aonad amháin.

Tá pointe a 1. á dhéanamh i rith an ama agus tá go leor daoine fásta ag foghlaim na Gaeilge – cé gur fíor gur mionlach atá ann agus nach mbainfidh an mhórchuid líofacht amach choíche.

Tá pointe a 2. a dhéanamh go mór mór – is iomaí ionad agus ócáid ina bhfuil Gaeilge á úsáid.

Tá pointe a 3 á dhéanamh go pointe – ach ag leibhéal an-íseal ar fad cé go bhfuil iarrachtaí á ndéanamh leis an staid sin a fheabhsú.

Caithfear an cheist a chur – an bhfuil Gaeilgeoirí tar éis léim thar an chéim seo (Bunús seachadadh máthair-teanga idirghlúine”) agus cén tionchar a bheadh aige sin.

Pointe a 4. Bhí traidisiúin iriseoireachta scríofa Gaeilge ar leith i mBéal Feirste (Lá / Lá Nua) atá caillte anois. Ach tá litearthacht na Gaeilge á spreagadh cá bith – ag an siopa leabhair an Ceathrú Póilí cuir i gcás. Pobal is ea iad Gaeilgeoirí iarthar Bhéal Feirste a léann leabhair, is a scríobhann leabhair fiú.

Pointe a 5. Tá sé bhunscoil lán-Ghaeilge in iarthar Bhéal Feirste agus meánscoil amháin – Coláiste Feirste. Mar sin féin, níl i gceist ach mionlach den phobal go dtí seo agus cailleann cuid mhaith dena daoine a théann fríd an Ghaelscolaíocht cumas s’acu sa teanga – ach amháin má roghnaíonn siad é a choinneáil ar chúis amháin nó eile – níl an teanga láidir go leor sa phobal ná go gcothaíodh sé an cumas sin.

Pointe a 6. Tá earnáil na Gaeilge láidir in iarthar Bhéal Feirste in éineacht le tionscadail bainteach leis – siopaí, caiféanna agus srl. Chomh maith leis sin, tá go leor daoine fostaithe in earnáil an Ghaeloidis. Mar sin féin, ní féidir as mhaíomh go gcloistear mórán Gaeilge á úsáid sna ionad oibre taobh amuigh de sin.

Pointe a 7. A bhuíoch do Ghaeilgeoirí iarthar Bhéal Feirste go príomha, Aodán Mac Póilín, cuir i gcás, tá Gaeilge le cloisteáil agus le feiceáil ar an BBC. Tá sí le léamh san Irish News ar bhonn laethúil chomh maith.

Pointe a 8. Is dóigh liom nach féidir le pobal iarthar Bhéal Feirste tionchar a imirt “ag leibhéil ard náisiúnta”.

Pobal Chrotshléibhe

Ag an taobh eile den speictream, bheadh Pobal Chrotshléibhe, bunaithe i ndeisceart Chontae an Dúin – áit a mbeadh idir an Ghaeilge agus gluaiseacht na Gaeilge i bhfad níos laige ná mar atá in iarthar Bhéal Feirste.

Pointe a 1. Bíonn an Ghaeilge á theagaisc do dhaoine fásta go pointe.

Céim a haon (ag baint dhátheangachas amach

Pointe a 1. Ag atógáil na teanga (foclóir, patrúin agus srl.) agus an teanga atógtha sin a theagaisc do dhaoine fásta mar dhara theanga

Pointe a 2 . Tá dhá fhoclóir scríofa ar an chineál Gaeilge áitiúil chomh maith le staidéar PhD agus tá leabhar staire ann. Bíonn go leor imeachtaí cultúrtha a eagrú.

Pointe a 3. Tá ar a laghad trí theaghlach lán-Ghaeilge sa cheantar agus tá an teanga á úsáid i dtuairim ar trí theaghlach eile – ar a laghad.

Pointe a 4. Níl mórán den chineál gníomhaíochta seo ag tarlú i gceantair Chrotshléibhe.

Pointe 5. Níl aon scolaíocht trí mheán na Gaeilge ar fáil sa cheantar cé go mbíonn cuid páistí ag dul chun gaelscoileanna sna bailte móra, ar an Iúr agus i gCaisleán Uidhilín.

Pointe a 6. Níl an Ghaeilge á úsáid ina aon áit oibre sa cheantar.

Pointe a 7 & 8. Níl na pointí seo ábhartha gceantar Chrotshléibhe ag an phointe seo.

Is féidir a fheiceáil go bhfuil muintir iarthar Bhéal Feirste go mór chun tosaigh ar Phobal Chrotshléibhe maidir le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge agus go bhfuil modh oibre Fishman úsáideach chun dul chun cinn a thomhais.

[ix] Fishman (1991): “The fact that there is a large, still active, elderly population (‘elderly’ being defined as ‘ past child-bearing age’) that organizes and partakes of endless Xish public events, rituals, ceremonies, concerts, lectures, courses, contests, readings, songfests, theatrical presentations, radio and television programs and publications is, of course, a tremendous societal achievement and a great joy to those individuals who are personally involved in and enriched by these activities. However, from the point of view of RLS, all of these activities are merely rallies of the ‘last Mohicans’. They serve to enthuse the already enthusiastic, to convince the already convinced. At best, they may be said to keep motivation high among the already committed and, in that way, to keep open the possibility that other means of RLS, via efforts that are linked to and involve the younger generations, may still be devised, adopted, implemented and emphasized.”

[x] Fishman (1991): “It is hard for a thousand ‘old-timers’ who attend an absolutely first rate pagent for Xish’ to believe that on the morning after Xish is still no better off than it was on the night before. However, that is really the case, quite regardless of of how many ‘young guests’ were also present on any one such particular occasion or another, because special events of this kind are just that; as such they are simply not linked into the ongoing, normal, daily family socialisation pattern. Their audiences disperse and there is no necessary carry-over from the ideologial and esthetic highs that these events often attain, to the concrete rounds of daily life and, most particularly, to the child socialization nexus on which RLS ultimately really depends.”

[xi] Fishman (1991).

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